Earlier this year, Milwaukee County in Wisconsin created a new ordinance that developers of AR games like Pokemon GO would need a permit in order for players to use any of the county’s parks while playing. Unsurprisingly, there was huge backlash.
The backlash to the ordinance was so severe that it saw Candy Lab, Inc., a developer of AR apps and games, file a lawsuit against Milwaukee County. Seven months after the lawsuit was filed, the litigation is coming to an end, and it is proving to be rather expensive for the Wisconsin county.
A memo by Collen Foley, Milwaukee County deputy corporation counsel, explains that the county’s attorney and its insurance company are recommending that Milwaukee County settle the suit. Under the settlement, a preliminary injunction granted by U.S. District Judge J.P. Stadtmueller in July would become permanent. The injunction put a block on the Pokemon GO-preventing ordinance, saying that it treated game developers like Niantic and Candy Lab, Inc. as though they were trying to hold events in the county’s parks.
As part of the settlement, Milwaukee County would also have to pay $83,000 to Candy Lab, Inc. to help cover the developer’s legal fees. The county board and Judge Stadtmueller still have to sign off on the settlement, but if given the go-ahead, the lawsuit will hurt the county’s bank balance as well as its pride.
The popularity of AR games is steadily growing and Pokemon GO is far from the only AR-game on the scene. There are games like Draconius GO, for example, and Pokemon GO developer Niantic is also working on a game called Harry Potter: Wizards Unite. This lawsuit ensures that in one county in the United States, at least, players of all of these AR games can play as they wish without waiting for the developers to get a special permit.
The outcome of the lawsuit and the cost of the settlement may dissuade authorities in other areas – in the United States and beyond – from putting forward legislation like this. With the recent reports about Pokemon GO causing traffic accidents, damages, and deaths, some places may well have been considering taking legal action against the AR game and others like it. But the situation with Milwaukee County’s authorities could see them think twice about putting similar ordinance’s in place.
Pokemon GO is available now on Android and iOS devices.